Weekly Planner: Switch from People to Places

House in Rathcalen, Co. Westmeath, IrelandIf you’re stuck on a particular ancestral line, try moving your investigation from the people to the places they lived. Using your favorite search engine, seek information on the city, neighborhood or town, institutions like churches, schools and organizations that existed when your ancestor was there. Look for local histories that may be posted on the websites of municipalities, congregations, chambers of commerce, businesses, schools and universities, etc. Doing so will not only give you some insight into what their lives were like, it will broaden your knowledge of the area and possibly alert you to new avenues of research.

Using Ancestry.com: Exact Searches

by Juliana Smith 

As I mentioned in my scribblings on the blog Monday night, the Ranked and Exact Search combined make a powerful team of tools. That said, I’m still a little partial and I favor the Exact Search. It’s like an old faithful friend and has found many an ancestor for me! I think that I like it so much because with the advanced search fields, you can manipulate your searches to effectively focus your search. Here are some tips I’ve found useful in using the Exact Search. Continue reading

Churches Have Anniversaries Too!

100th Anniversary, St. Paul of the Cross Church, Dayton, New Yorkby Paula Stuart Warren

We seek out the church records of our ancestors, either in the original format or on microfilm. The records of a family member’s christening, marriage, burial, or the names of parents and witnesses help to fill in the blank spots on our family tree. For some religious denominations we may only find minutes of a church committee or ruling body. We wish for something more. Well, there is one more resource in existence for many churches and synagogues.

Churches often celebrate 50, 75, 100, 150 or more years in existence. A get-together might mark the occasion and a local newspaper might cover the event, complete with a short history of the congregation. Many churches also publish a separate anniversary booklet filled with important details and these booklets are today’s topic. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Disappearing Ancestors

by Michael John Neill

Did your retirement age ancestor disappear after their spouse died? After Augusta Newman died in Indiana in 1861, his widow sold the farm and move to Iowa to live near one of her children. She’s buried there and her husband is buried in Indiana. Her children scattered to three states and it was necessary to locate her son in Iowa to find her tombstone.

In another example, William Rhodes’ wife died in Missouri in the 1880s. All his children stayed in Missouri, except one. We thought he was buried in an unmarked grave in Missouri only to find out that he ventured to Oklahoma to be near his one son who moved to that state.

If you have a missing ancestor, make certain you have located the final resting places of all their children. You may find Mom or Dad, or even Grandma or Grandpa buried right beside one of them.

Your Quick Tips

Ask Around on Local Research Trips
Always ask around when you pay a visit to a family locale. On our way to Alaska, my husband and I made a side trip to Chelan Washington to do some genealogy. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the local historical society, asked the attendant if they knew of the “Van Meter” family and she answered, “Why yes, I do know we have some photographs, entries in the baptismal records, and you will find some headstones in our cemetery!” Genealogy heaven! Now, I never hesitate to ask, ask, ask!

Karen Binkley
Long Beach CA

Correspondence Log
To maintain my letters of information about ancestors from relatives I added them to my notebook in clear sleeves so you can show who its from, then the data received. This saves time searching for these letters and other data that they sent. I put each in the notebook sleeves according to the dates received. This saves a lot of time searching for information.

Atlas Helps Sort Out Boundary Changes
The Oxford Atlas of World History is a fascinating help when researching the actual national homeland of an ancestor in a particular year. National boundaries change throughout history so the location of a city or area may be in a different country now than it was when your ancestor emigrated!

Susan Peck

If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:[email protected] . Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the “Ancestry Weekly Journal” please state so clearly in your message.

The Year Was 1865

Map of Lee's Surrender, 09 April 1865 from Ancestry.com Historical Map CollectionThe year was 1865 and it began with Abraham Lincoln in office and the long and brutal Civil War in the U.S. coming to an end. By the time it was ended, according to the Civil War Center at Louisiana State University, combined there were over 970,000 casualties (184,594 combat deaths, 373,458 deaths from disease and other causes, and 412,175 wounded).

On April 14, the newspapers were still talking about Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, and peace, but the following day’s newspapers would tell a different story. On April 14, actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre and he died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. “The New York Times” edition for April 15 chronicles the events of that evening and is available free online at Ancestry.com.

In the worst marine disaster in U.S. history, on April 27, one of the boilers on the riverboat Sultana burst and 1,547 of the estimated 2,485 passengers and crew died, many of them soldiers recently released from the Confederate prison at Andersonville.

On the medical front, British surgeon Joseph Lister began the use of antiseptics in surgery. Unfortunately it was a practice that took time to catch on and many doctors scoffed at it. It wasn’t until the 1880s that there was an increase in the use of antiseptics.

Who Are Your Favorite Genealogical Writers and Speakers??

From Megan Smolenyak

Whether or not you’re planning on attending this year’s Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Boston, I hope I can impose on you to help me develop a presentation I’ll be giving there at the joint luncheon of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. My topic is Finding Your Voice: Speaking and Writing in the Genealogical World, and while I have a little experience in these areas myself, I like to broaden my talks by including the perspectives and experiences of others.

For that reason, I would be extremely grateful if you would take a couple of minutes to email me at [email protected] to tell me about your favorite genealogical writer and/or speaker. In particular, I’d like to know what it is about this person’s writing or speaking that appeals to you – why this one stands apart from others. And if you happen to be a writer or speaker yourself, I welcome any lessons learned or anecdotes you might care to share. Thanks in advance for your help!


Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999 Temporarily Removed

I received the following message from Ancestry.com:

The Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999 has been temporarily de-published on Ancestry.com. The company recently received communication from the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives indicating that the copy of these records received by Ancestry contained names that should not have been included in the database. At the request of the state the database was removed for the time being. Ancestry.com is working with the state quickly to obtain a properly redacted index and when received, will work hard to re-publish this valuable index.

Easy Feeds Through Google

Google wht.gifMost of you have probably heard the term, RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, although when you first hear it, it sounds like it is anything but simple. Truth be told, it’s not too tough to get feeds from your favorite blogs. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore a few options for those of you who are interested in getting feeds from this and other blogs. Later, these posts will be saved in a static page that will stay on the site, similar to the About page that you see linked in the sidebar. To begin, I thought we’d start with a look at how you can get feeds through a customized Google search page. Continue reading